PI(s): Michael J. Weaver (Project Leader)

Investigators: Stephanie Blevins, Holly Gatton, Patricia Hipkins, Rachel Parson, Shanan Sessor, Susan Terwilliger, Whitney Weaver

Abstract: Pesticide Safety Education (PSE) in Virginia is a statewide educational program with an overall goal to protect the environment and the public health from improper pesticide use through applicator and public education. The primary target audience includes certified and non-certified pesticide applicators of all kinds, farmworkers, and the general public. Most of the program activity involves training support for a group of approximately 21,000 pesticide applicators who seek training in order to comply with federal and state pesticide certification and licensing requirements. Program efforts are coordinated with other states, state and federal pesticide regulatory agencies, agricultural organizations, manufacturers of pesticide chemicals and alternative control technology, application equipment and engineering control companies, and other related cooperators. The program is supported by Extension agents and specialists from across the Commonwealth. In 2013, Extension agents from over 90 Virginia localities dedicated their time and resources to this program. That group is responsible for holding over 300 annual training meetings and field days designed to benefit pesticide applicators across Virginia and the region. The agents train applicators, develop training media and programs, answer public inquiries, and advise the public on proper and safe pesticide use and the selection of proper pest management strategies including non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.

Description:

Program partners: VCE agents and specialists, American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators, Southern Region IPM Center, pest management professionals, producers, pesticide applicators, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, US Environmental Protection Agency, USDA/Office of Pest Management Policy, pesticide control officials

Funding resources: Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Southern Region IPM Center (USDA/NIFA), Syngenta, US Environmental Protection Agency

Program description:

Pesticide Safety Education (PSE) in Virginia is a statewide educational program with an overall goal to protect the environment and the public health from improper pesticide use through applicator and public education. The primary target audience includes certified and non-certified pesticide applicators of all kinds, farm workers, and the general public. Most of the program activity involves training support for a group of approximately 20,000 pesticide applicators who seek training in order to comply with federal and state pesticide certification and licensing requirements. Program efforts are coordinated with other states, state and federal pesticide regulatory agencies, agricultural organizations, manufacturers of pesticide chemicals and alternative control technology, application equipment and engineering control companies, and other related cooperators. The program is supported by Extension agents and specialists from across the Commonwealth. The statewide Extension PSE program is administered by Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs (VTPP). The two specialists and seven staff of VTPP, and five specialists from other departments, develop program media, training manuals, speak on statewide and regional workshops, and support Extension agents and specialists through professional development workshops and on-going web-based instruction and support. VTPP faculty work very closely with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to make sure the training in Virginia is coordinated with enforcement policy in order to implement an effective and relevant PSE program. Pesticide applicator training manuals and exam questions for 24 different categories of applicators are approved by VDACS prior to publication. VDACS funds the program on a contractual basis.

Program Objectives

1. For pesticide applicators to meet the competency requirements of state and federal pesticide laws in order to be certified private and commercial applicators in the Commonwealth.

 

Statewide Goal: Virginia's agricultural, forestry, and agribusiness firms will be competitive and profitable.

Objective Strategies:

  1. For applicators to be trained for initial certification. Should be reported as the number of private applicators trained for initial certification, and the number of commercial applicators trained for initial certification.
  2. For applicators to be trained for recertification. Should be reported as the number of private applicators trained for recertification, and the number of commercial applicators trained for recertification.
  3. For applicators to be trained as registered technicians. Should be reported as the number of registered technicians trained or recertified.

2. For non-certified pesticide users, the public, news media, and decision-makers to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to understand where pesticides fit within our society and to make sound decisions when choosing proper pest controls.

Statewide Goal: Virginia's natural resources will be enhanced. Virginia's environment and public health will be protected.

Objective Strategies:

  1. For Extension to train non-certified applicators to use pesticides safely. Numbers should be reported in the number of non-certified applicators trained and success stories (impact) of training.
  2. For Extension to educate the public (including youth and families) of the role pesticides play in society including the risks and benefits of using these tools. Numbers should be reported as the number of groups, families, youths, etc. educated on the issues and success stories (impact) of such educational events.

Program Outcomes:

In 2013, 85 Extension agents from over 90 Virginia localities and seven specialists dedicated their time and resources to this program. That group was responsible for holding over 300 training meetings and field days designed to benefit pesticide applicators across Virginia and the region. Program resources included over $400,000 in external support for the program in 2013 and over 250 volunteers. In addition to 24 training manuals, program publications developed for the program included 75 different publications and 14 web-based courses and content sites. Agents train applicators, develop training media and programs, answer public inquiries, and advise the public on proper and safe pesticide use and the selection of proper pest management strategies including non-chemical alternatives to pesticides. Specialists train applicators, develop statewide program media and publications, coordinate and conduct an annual two day train-the-trainer workshop for all Extension agents working with the program (85 in 2013), seek external funds, manage program web-based educational and train-the-trainer resources, and work with other states and stakeholders to enhance the program effort in Virginia.